Film Collaboration: In-depth Progress

Film Collaboration: In-depth Progress

1st Update: 18.03.16
2nd Update: 25.03.16
3rd Update: 31.03.16
4th Update: 02.04.16
5th Update: 09.04.16
6th Update: 18.04.16

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For this project, I had built a larger set of kaleidoscope mirrors. We brought the two mirrors out to experiment but quickly realised the larger mirror was too heavy to be any useful. I tried replicating the same swirly effect for the indoor shoot, but the results had not been fruitful. Throughout the process, I had relied on the original set of small mirrors.

 

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For every 250 raw images of the indoor shoot was roughly two hours of processing in lightroom, and then another thirty mins of rendering to sequence in premiere pro.

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Moving Images

Test 1

Test 2

For the first two attempts, I reshot the time-lapse sequences again, and with the lights as how I did for my still images. I experimented with the large kaleidoscope mirrors, but it was too heavy for me to last throughout the session. I eventually used the smaller one for all the sequences. After to two hours of rendering in Lightroom, I lay them out in premiere pro and see how the effects went. I didn’t like the outcome.

Although the effect came out as I have somewhat imagined, I didn’t like the outcome, for  two reasons: one, the laptop screen wasn’t well hidden away and the edge of the screen is visible in the daylight sequences. two, somehow the night image looked better.

Lucy thought the light streaks were a little too much.

Test 3

Test 4

Test 5

The next challenge was to solve the amount and speed of the light streaks. It was almost impossible to maintain the steady rotation speed for all 250 images. so on my next attempt, I did one sequence in two separate layers. I shot 50 frames (two seconds) of the light streak and overlay them onto the sequence in loops (test3). This way, I could remotely control the speed of the light streaks (test 5) however I want.

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Test 6

On my final attempt, I returned back to Mousehold Heath again, picking a clear night sky. Each image was a 20 sec exposure for 20 sec interval and 9 seconds worth of images. The time lapsing began at 1  am and lasted for about two hours.

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The next part took another half a day to produce the final sequence. This time, I used my black mousepad to cover the keyboard, plus the light streak sequence slowed down to about 50% speed.

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Statistics

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Variation One

Variation Two (Final result)

 

My thoughts

My first thought of the final sequence was quite interesting itself. I had not thought that a time-lapse sequence could be further developed in this way. Although I had no part in the filming process, Lucy was able to zoom in on certain portions of the sequence and yet retain its quality. I thought perhaps the video could be improved if there was a proper opening and ending title sequence.

 

Overview

During our collaboration process, we try to make the most of our differences. This enables a deeper synthesis of our ideas. Our research was based on each of our previous developments for our courses, and we used the right tools for our work. Our guiding principles were that we externalize our thinking, presume value even when it’s not obvious. We build upon each other’s works instead of blocking. Where time has always been a constraint, we try to seek the best way forward, not perfection. We make decisions together and provided encouragement and feedback for each other to work on. However, perhaps the one thing we could improve upon was to plan ahead and better communication. After all, developing trust takes time. All in all, it was a good experience.

For an overview of this project, click here.
For my reflection on this collaboration project, click here.

 

Landscape: An Expanded Research

1st Update: 23.02.16
2nd Update: 29.02.16
3rd Update: 03.03.16

Modern landscape photography can be categorized into three general styles – Representational, impressionistic and Abstract.

Representational landscape photographs are straightforward, where much attention is paid to framing, lighting, and composition. They portray the most natural and realistic scenery without distorting reality with props or artificial components. Ansel Adams and Mark Gray are some of the notable photographers with this style.

The impressionistic landscape image carries a vague or elusive sense of reality through various photography techniques. The landscape seems more of an impression rather than its true representation. Morag Paterson and Ted Leeming are some photographers who practice the impressionistic style.

Abstract landscape photos use part of the scenery as graphic components and arranged for their compositional values. Natural elements may be rendered unrecognizable as design becomes more important than its realistic representation. Peter Stewart and Eric Dufour are some photographers who specialize in this area.

In recent years, a new form of landscape photography is slowly emerging. It is the result of people today becoming so de-sensitized to images of war conflicts and other issues of socioeconomic and geopolitical circumstances they see every day that it takes more stimulating images just to create an awareness.

It is the ‘Provocative’.

The dictionary defines ‘Provocative’ or ‘Provoke’ as to call forth certain emotions, inciting irritation or vexation, usually in a negative sentiment in another person. It may also mean to excite stimulate or arouse an interest. It is related to the Latin root meaning challenge, which adequately describe the general antagonistic effect desired by the use of the word.

‘Provocative’ in photography is usually associated with portraitures or people images. Subjects that raises certain issues or controversies often generate a lot of responses. Some advertising agencies implore such tactics to create an awareness in their campaigns.

What does ‘Provocative Landscape’ mean?

Does provocative scenery necessarily mean serene images? Does a documentary-style landscape photograph ‘provoke’ or ‘evoke’?

In relation to landscape photography, such images may address certain socioeconomic or geopolitical issues pertaining to the landscape environment. It may be in the form of metaphorical representation, or encompass an evocative element. It can be phantasmagoric and dreamy yet rooted in a cold reality check, a visually compelling and conceptually stimulating consideration of the photographic medium; thus blending the borders of fiction and reality together.

Why do I choose this approach?

When we look through landscape images, everyone has that same shot of soft sunlight at the golden hour, breaking through the evening clouds to highlight the rolling hills over the horizon or that sunrise or sunset with a blazing sky and a large open space at foreground. Or perhaps that “silky and milky” shot of the waterfall in a deep forest with plenty of autumn leaves. It seems like we are all following the same kind of ‘magic formula’ that has been prescribed by all the landscape photographers that have gone before us.

In an effort to stretch the limits of the landscape photography, I attempt to explore ways to break away from the norm. The objective is not to challenge what has been established in landscape photography, but to explore and expand its limits. I think ‘Provocative Landscape’ has the potential for further exploration.

Types of ‘Provocative’ approaches

Different forms of provocation inform a different outcome of imagery. Types of provocativeness include – Contextual Controversies, Provocative Connotations, and Thought-provoking photography.

Contextual Controversies are about raising challenges to certain issues, usually in negative sentiment. It could be of polemic or apologetic argumentation, and photography presents these issues to reflect these argumentative propositions. French photojournalist Luc Delahaye is one photographer who implores such photography.

Provocative Connotations are about adding subtle or graphic details, or human element into the imagery content which creates challenges to prove a point. It presents a dialectic discussion of the imagery. Conceptual photographer Benjamin Von Wong’s ‘Storm chasing’ series reflects this approach.

Thought-provoking imagery takes on a rhetoric approach in raising an issue, stimulating an interest and causing the audience to think of the things they have not thought of before. It sometimes blends reality with the surreal. The end goal is to persuade its audience, usually in a positive sentiment. Edward Burtynsky’s landscape series and Kelly Richardson’s ‘Orion Tide’ reflects this approach.

Going Forward

My ideal approach in exploring this genre is about creating thoughtful juxtapositions and positive insights, yet retain an indefinable, ineffable mystery. They should be visually arresting yet serve to concern and inform.

Moving forward, I should be seeking collaboration with Geography students from the University of East Anglia or professionals familiar with the topic.

 

Landscape: Follow Up

Follow up from of BA2a

A Kaleidoscope of colours

‘A Kaleidoscope of Colours’ is a body of work with the exploration of vibrant colours and structure through the luminosity of light across different genres of photography.

Rough Cut

Explored more into landscape, utilising colours in the opposite direction. ‘Landscape’ can be creatively stretched by anything and how I choose to develop with available material.

Client’s Brief

A first-hand work experience in a production shoot. Planning is crucial. But more importantly, it is good communication with the client that makes or break the project.

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BA2b: A Blueprint

Learning Agreement (Theme: Provocative Landscapes) (Draft)

  • Landscape related; To stretch the definition of a landscape.
  • To identify the environmental concerns of the landscape.
  • Campaign awareness?
  • To find collaboration

1000 Word Essay report (Theme: Provocative Landscapes) (Draft)

  • Stretching the limits of landscape photography
  • Explore how landscape photography has changed over time.
  • Extended Essay Approach

Collaboration Project (Theme: ???)

  • TBC

Why do we need Collaboration?

Collaboration is working with others to do a task and to achieve shared goals. Most collaboration requires leadership, although the form of leadership can be social within a decentralized and egalitarian group. In particular, teams that work collaboratively can obtain greater resources, recognition and reward when facing competition for finite resources.

Creative Collaboration

  • Models: Subjects for photography shoot
  • Stylists: General look of the model subject.
  • Film: Behind-the-scenes production video, ‘Campaign’ Teaser
  • Music: Music for video
  • Graphic: Mock-up Editorial

Non-Creative Collaboration

  • Advisory: Advises on-site location, weather, etc.
  • Logistics: Support for transportation and prop equipment, etc.
  • Manpower: Support for the Production shoot

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Client’s Brief: Research

Introduction

For many people, food and family have an intimate connection. Preserving family recipes trigger the memories of our childhood and the relationships with our past and present family members. It reminds us of long-forgotten experiences and relieve the feelings of wisdom, comfort, and excitement. These legacies are the family heirloom that bridges the younger generation, so they may understand about their family heritage and continue to strengthen these ties.

A Clarity of Direction

There is more to Food editorial photography in commercial still life. Intimate stories of food that hold such special meaning bring people together. While cooking is an art of self-expression, photography becomes the platform for revealing these experiences. The challenge is to approach common food in a fresh and vibrant way, injecting my style of visual elements.

Applications

My works focus on editorial recipe books.
Other applications include:

  • Recipe book and cards,
  • Product, Lifestyle, recipe magazine, and news-letters.
  • Online recipes for website or blog
  • Info-Ed Videos

Treatment and Planning

As the end product focuses on the food as a reminder of family bond and memories, the prepared dish should coherently reflect the culture of the person behind the cooking. This assignment is a collaboration between Mr Kai Chiu and I.

Dish: Wanton Noodle

Location: Mr Kai Chiu’s home kitchen

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Visual References

Inspiration & photographers

  • Celebrity chef Sam Leong Cuisine books (Singapore)
  • Heirloom recipe book (Singapore)
  • Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver
  • Bene Tan photography

My Visual Approach

  • Raw ingredients: An aerial view of the raw ingredients and tools needed to prepare the dish; to give a homely feel. Wanton wrappers, bowl of mince meat. etc
  • Preparation in action: A behind-the-scenes still as the food is being prepared; to give an authentic home cooking feel.
  • Making wantons
  • Cooking noodles
  • Preparing for presentation
  • Subject and food
  • Dish with the family: with the food being the focus.
  • “Hero” Wanton Noodle: A stylized approach to the dish.Sketches

Moving Images: In-Depth Progress

Early Stages & Planning

My research references led me to established my moving image on my central photographic theme, using the Cinemagraphic approach. I explore the techniques of Cinemagraph, double exposures, time lapse, and hyper lapse, etc. Contents of my video would be predominantly landscapes, further exploring how portraiture and still life could be influenced.

Work Processes

While taking into Consideration on the possible location and visual contents, I created a pseudo-storyboard table, which would form the basis of my video sequences.

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Technical Considerations

Landscape time lapse pieces were mostly 5D Mk III and a tripod, a wide angle lens, and a clicker. Still life and portraiture sequences were based on the type of lenses used for photography. considering the file size of the final video, I determined a medium image size would suffice for all my productions. the table below shows the guideline I have established for workflow.

Final Video Form
QuicktimeCodec: Sorenson Video1920x108025 FPSPALAudio
Image Form
Image sequence
M Raw + Jpeg2300 x 1200
Timelapse FormQuicktimeCodec: Animation1920x108025 FPSPAL  AE formQuicktimeCodec: Animation1920x108025 FPSPAL 

 

Post Process and Editing Work Flow

For my work processes, I categorise my workflow into different phases. Due to the complex nature of editing cinemagraphic moving images, I think it is essential to keep the flow organised as much as possible.

In phase one, I import my raw images into Lightroom and Photoshop, for post-processing of images. I apply the edits across all my image sequences before re-export them to jpeg files. In phase two, I open these files into Photoshop to apply auto align images to all shaky sequences and save them again.

For the next phase, I import the image sequence into Premiere pro, to create time-lapse sequences. I then export the sequence to video with “Animation” settings. My rationale for choosing “Animation” setting was because it offers an extremely high resolution of video footages to work on, without the need to to reference back to thousands of photo images.

Phase four: using the video footages, I could create the cinemagraphic effect in After Effects, as well as create moving double exposures. I would need to do a rotoscoping on the worst case scenario. By re-rendering it to animation settings, I could still retain a relatively high resolution for the final phase.

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Last but not least, I come back to Premiere Pro to do a rough cut. I apply music and text edits to the master sequence, before exporting to the final video form.

Landscape: In-depth Progress

Landscape: In-depth Progress

Early Stages & Planning
After gathering my research references and sketching out my ideas, I developed an interested in exploring a mass of saturated colours in structures, something which represented my photographic style. Initially starting out with autumn trees as my main subject, I wanted to incorporate my landscapes with metaphorical representations.

My main focus for landscape would be a mass of colours, tree leaves and structure. I chose these elements to form my landscapes because leaves are the textures of trees and in relation, trees are part of the earth landscape, in an environmental sense. By focusing on the bare essential of the landscape: colours, leaves, structure; I am merely highlighting the importance of these elements in the environment.

Work Processes
Being unfamiliar with my new environment, I began scouting for locations and observe the lighting and weather conditions. The first challenge was to identify the right tree and estimate my travelling time. The second challenge was lighting and timing. I soon realised the sunlight here were quite different; the sun sets earlier each day as the season transits into winter. Schedule timings have been unfavourable as the occurrence of sunshine and reddening of leaves were very rare. I began to look at other options. Narrowing down my colour scheme, would be the spectrum of saturated warm colours with a contrast of blue.

Technical Considerations
Landscape One: The trees on location were far from my ideal sketch. I brought my 5D MKIII and a 16-35mm wide angle lens, and stuck my camera and tripod near the tree. The first thing I did was to figure the right composition from the ground up.

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After a couple of shots, I figured the trunks anchored to a corner of the frame works better compositionally. I choose wide angle lens over other lens I had, so as to get as much mass of tree leaves into frame. As I noticed only the tree top canopy was lit, I adopted multiple exposures technique to compensate for the huge difference in exposure. Though the reddening of the leaves were still not enough, subsequent attempts with telephotos lens did not work well, due to unfavourable weather timings.

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I think this was the more successful image out of the several trips made, because of the mass of colours of the leaves caused by backlighting and the structure of the tree brunches works well. Thus, this creates a balanced luminosity.

Landscape Two: While on the way to Mousehold Heath, I found another favourable location; trees with lower canopy which I could comfortably zoom in with my own personal equipment. As I usually tend to survey my landscape subjects before actual shoot, I chose this close-up composition because I was looking at a balance mix of leaves gradation colours and right lighting to create some contrast. It was the blue sky in background that added impact to the image. An aperture of F4.0 was used to create some depth of field, and a fast shutter to eliminate unintended blurriness. This puts focus on the leaves at foreground. I initially took a couple snapshots as a visual reference before moving on. Unfortunately, I was unable to revisit as the trees have become almost barren.

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On post process I corrected the exposure on camera raw and saturated the colours using HSL panel. Originally shot as landscape orientation, portraiture works better for me visually.

Landscape Three:  Subsequent visits to check on the reddening condition of the autumn leaves, I went out on one rainy day. As I surveyed the landscape at the top of Mousehold Heath, I found nobody in the area except for a lady in red coat with her dog. The weather got worse and she was already leaving the hill.

A grey sky, a green hill and a lady in red coat.

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Seeing a chance of primary colours, I instinctively whipped out my camera to capture the right moment, just enough time to set the right exposure setting. This was the only frame captured in the moment with my wide angle lens, and a surprise landscape for me.

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Landscape Four: The time was already the end of autumn, and seasonal trees have become almost barren. To have red leaves and blue sky in my favour has gotten impossible. As I set out to capture my fourth landscape, what caught my eyes were these particular trees brunches dotted with red, green and yellow leaves. This has an interesting structure compositionally, though not as colourful as I had anticipated.

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I used a wide angle lens, with aperture F10. After a couple of shots, I found the images to be too bright. This was caused by the sunlight creating intense backlighting on the tree brunches. I added a Gradual Neutral Density Filter to my lens, so as to reduce the light on the top. In addition, I did a two bracket exposure shot, just to be safe. On post process, as it turns out, I had to blend the two images together to create a more contrast effect.

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Rough Cut: Brainstorm of Ideas

1st Update: 05.12.15
2nd Update: 06.12.15
3rd Update: 15.01.16

Rough Cut: Brainstorm of Ideas

In my previous assignment, I was interested in the exploration of vibrant colours in complex yet harmonious structures. They were saturated and crisp, with a constructivist approach. In this task, with the research references and advice gathered, I decided to expand on the same theme “colours”, but in the opposite direction of my style.

What I am interested in this experimentation, was to investigate how colours integrate with structures under low light conditions to form an image, but in soft focus to the point of basic geometric forms. This informed experiment was the result of daily observance of the weather condition whilst working on the earlier assignments, as well as the progression of my peers during group crits.

For my previous assignment, I have been looking at bright day lighting, saturated and crisp, and constructivist approach. Instead of the usual approach, I will be exploring the opposite of my style.  I will be looking soft focus bokeh, Natural nightscapes, and adopt a suprematism-ish approach, utilising various different techniques to achieve the desired effect.

Continuing my visual reference research, such as the style of David Lachapelle, Some notable photographer I looked at in this assignment includes the works of Ori GershtGregory CrewdsonMarius ViethWynn Bullock , Ben Stockley , as well as Nick Knight.

Initial Ideas and concepts

Initially, I had the idea of breaking down landscape structures to its most geometric form and see how bokeh colours integrate with it. I then started to consider other methods to break the landscape apart, as well as digital and print techniques.

In the table below, I list out the possible approaches I could go about in my experimentation. Using an excel sheet, I adopted a cross-out method to identify the best results for my rough cuts.

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Continue here for more in-depth progress of my Rough Cuts.